A HALIFAX mother-of-two is being forced to give up her dream business – and is appealing for someone to take it over.
Gemma Ford, 30, set up her Socatots franchise four years ago, helping children to exercise.
It has guided 100 tots a week – from six months to five years old – to develop physical, social and motor skills based on football.
But now Gemma has to give it all up because of a rare illness that affects her brain and spine.
Intracranial hypertension leaves Gemma with headaches, eyesight problems, difficulties balancing and even memory loss.
“It causes an increase in the fluid in my head and spine which doesn’t drain properly,” said Gemma, from Savile Park, Halifax.
“It’s devastating. It’s the best job I have ever had and I’m only giving it up because of the situation, otherwise I would be doing it for the rest of my life.
“I don’t want to have to give into it”
Gemma was previously diagnosed with the illness during the pregnancy of her first child Luke, 10.
It later went into remission and in most cases that would be the end of it but around Christmas 2009 the illness returned and Gemma has suffered with it since.
She praised her husband, Michael, and two sons Luke and Jake, seven, who help her when she needs it.
“If my kids weren’t the age they are I would be in trouble. They help me by making drinks, doing some of the housework - they’re brilliant.”
Socatots is a programme set up by Brazilian Soccer Schools founder Simon Clifford.
The football based scheme aims to help children develop motor, literacy and numeracy skills.
“It helps to develop motor skills and gets them learning to walk quicker,” said Gemma.
“With all the talk about obese kids it’s a great way to help them to keep fit.
“Parents get involved too and it gives them a chance to play with their kids that they might not always get.
“I have got a little boy who’s three who can do keepy ups and does as much as his brother who is nine.”
The scheme’s mantra is one ball for each child to help them develop.
“It’s an all round learning and developing programme. We sing nursery rhymes and improve numeracy and literacy with games - a lot of traditional stuff.
“There’s a big focus on motor skills and social skills and it gets them used to working in a team.”
Now Gemma is appealing for someone to come forward and take over the business.
“I am looking for someone to take it over. I have a coach who I can ring up who’s been helping out but he goes back to college in September.
“I have put four years of my life into it so I want to make sure it’s someone who will run it properly.
“It’s not fair on the kids otherwise. Some have been coming for three years and you see them grow up and get close to their parents.”
If you are interested then you can contact Gemma on 07919151339